Favorite Things, December 42nd

I’m not the first to make the observation that it hasn’t really felt like a new year (see the not-very-original “December 42nd” joke in today’s title). Everything in day-to-day life has been the same as it was before January 1, and the world certainly isn’t looking improved or new in many ways yet. However, though this last week was incredibly discouraging, there were some great things too. To mark the new year, I wanted to start compiling my favorite things from each week–a sort of exercise in gratitude, since that’s supposed to help keep depression at bay–and it actually wasn’t that hard to come up with a list of good things from last week.

For instance, in BOOKS, there was the release of Volume 4 of Beth Brower’s Emma M Lion series. It’s a historical speculative fiction series, set up as the journal entries of a young woman in a somewhat fantastical and utterly charming (fictional) neighborhood in London in 1883. Intriguing gentlemen and rogues abound.

(Cover of Beth Brower’s book THE UNSELECTED JOURNALS OF EMMA M. LION: VOL. 4. Title is printed on a background of red, bordered by a floral decal in each corner.)

There was also Girl Gone Viral, one of Alisha Rai’s Modern Love romances which was the perfect mind cleanser after such an intense week.

(Cover of Alisha Rai’s book GIRL GONE VIRAL. Title printed large over a background of seafoam green with an illustration of a phone screen showing an Instagram post of a man and a woman together.)

In MUSIC, I fed my ears with Yaeji’s “Raingurl” (brought to my attention by my husband).

(Musician Yaeji stands, looking toward the left, wearing a transparent raincoat and holding a transparent umbrella that is lit up with LED lights. Screenshot captured from her music video “Raingurl.”)

And Boy Pablo’s “Hey Girl” (recommended by a friend).

(Boy Pablo sits on soccer/football field and stares off into distance. Screenshot captured from the music video for his song “Hey Girl”)

In TV, I’m currently a little obsessed with the HBO show Insecure. It’s witty, and engaging, and painful in the best way. Also, I love Issa Rae’s makeup and clothes and basically everything about her.

(Creator and producer of HBO’s INSECURE Issa Rae looks to camera. Photo credit Michael Owen Baker for the New York Times.)

Other things I’m loving this week:
– Not being a white supremacist
– The officers who put their lives on the line to keep people safe at the Capitol
– The political leaders who value our constitution over their own political goals
– GEORGIA! And all the people that did so much hard work to get the votes for Warnock and Ossoff so that we can hopefully have some progress in our legislature instead of the maddening standstill that’s been going on for so many years.

(Founder of Fair Fight Action Stacey Abrams elbow-bumping Senator-Elect Raphael Warnock. Both wearing cloth masks over their mouths and noses. Photo credit Stacey Abrams’ Instagram account.)
(Founder of Fair Fight Action Stacey Abrams elbow-bumping Senator-Elect Jon Ossoff. Both wearing cloth masks over their mouths and noses. Photo credit Stacey Abrams’ Instagram account.)

The Plot Thickens

IMG_20130821_225213I finished reorganizing the plot for my book. I did it with pen on paper because something about the tactility of it all was very satisfying. I liked being able to flip through each page, hold it in my hand as I looked at what needed to be condensed or moved. I liked feeling the little stack of papers get thicker and thicker between my fingers.

I’m back to actually writing again, with that handy stack of papers right by my side so I can reference it whenever I need to. I use Scrivener for my writing and I love how easy the program makes it to stay organized. It allows me to work the way my brain works without losing anything I don’t want to lose.

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to have something physical. My messy little outline is like a treasure map, leading me toward my end goal, and the crisp feel—the crinkle of the paper in my hand—reminds me that goal is reachable.

Writing Advice from a Top Gun

I was starting to feel kind of worried about how long it’s taking me to get my Painters book to where I want it to be. Then I saw last Thursday’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon interview with Val Kilmer.

Val Kilmer as Mark Twain in his one-man show Citizen Twain.

Val Kilmer as Mark Twain in his one-man show Citizen Twain. Doesn’t even look like Val.

While talking about how he took a break from acting in big movies for a while so that he could write a screenplay about Mary Baker Eddy and Mark Twain, Val Kilmer said, “After ten years of blood sweat and tears of writing the screenplay, I’m still about five years away from making it…I didn’t think it would take ten years…but then when I finally got the screenplay together I realized that I hadn’t put the character together.”

I was like, “Wait! That’s what happened to me too.” I’d gotten the plot pretty much sealed, but when I looked at the story again I realized the characters—Zanny especially—just sort of petered out partway through the book. Since the characters are one of my favorite parts of the story, I knew I had to remedy that situation. I’ve been working hard on making them live on the page in the same way they live in my mind, and that’s taking time to do.

I don’t have to feel bad about that. It’s taken genius pants Mr. Kilmer ten years to do his screenplay. If it takes me a few more months or so to get my book to where I’m happy with it, I’d say I’m in pretty good company. I can take the heat.

Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Val Kilmer as Gay Perry in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He’s so stinking cool.